News: Last Chance for Collision Repairers to Grade Insurers
ABRA Auto Body Repair of America is celebrating the team at ABRA Mankato for attaining 30 consecutive years in I-CAR’s Gold Class program.
Achieving and maintaining I-CAR’s Gold Class designation means a business has met the industry’s standard for training that contributes to complete, safe and quality repairs. More than 8,600 shops throughout the country are currently recognized as Gold Class, with ABRA Mankato’s being the 10th in the country to hold that ranking for 30 consecutive years.
“The unibody design had been gaining in popularity and there was lots of discussion in the industry on how to repair,” said Geralynn Kottschade, who co-owns ABRA Mankato with husband Jerry Kottschade. “When we earned our I-CAR certification, it not only helped get our team up to speed, but it also helped get us on the right path within the industry.”
ABRA Mankato was one of the earliest adopters of I-CAR training.
“At the time, it was a massive undertaking to equip your facility and your team with the time and tools needed to earn an I-CAR Gold Class designation,” said Geralynn. “We weren’t accustomed to training, there was no manufacturer or vendor training back then, we went to school and that was about the extent of it.”
The team continued to maintain its I-CAR Gold Class status for each consecutive year, seeing the value it brought to not only the repair quality but the team.
“We have several employees who have been with us for over 25 years and even the new ones that join, we put them with our senior technicians, and they stay with us meeting the five, 10, 15-year anniversaries,” Geralynn said. “People underestimate the value of continuous training. It can make your job more dynamic, expand your skills and keep you engaged in your work. We’re grateful our team is just as invested as we are in the quality of work.”
A family business for the Kottschades, the team has expanded to include their daughter Laura, who hopes to take over the business one day.
“I was a founding member of the Women’s Industry Network, on the Minnesota I-CAR committee, a part of NACE and always involved in these organizations,” said Geralynn. “It’s easy to see how fast the industry is changing and that’s why we’re so grateful that Laura has taken an interest in the business because there is limitless opportunity and such a high demand for talent.”
Both Geralynn and Jerry are proud of reaching this milestone and excited to continue providing the highest level of collision repair excellence to their community.
“We are grateful to have reached this milestone with I-CAR, but we know it’s not possible without the support of our community,” said Geralynn. “We look forward to continuing giving back to the people who helped get us here as well as supporting causes close to Mankato.”